After the confinement and tiring etiquette of Christmas Day, the prospect of soccer on Boxing Day offers something of a refuge for English Soccer Fans. An opportunity to escape the family, the simmering tensions and the dinner table strife, and breathe a sigh of relief, Boxing Day games are a tradition that we hold dear.
A national holiday, the day after Christmas (also called St. Stephen’s Day in Ireland) has come to be known as Boxing Day. The origin of its name is largely unknown. One theory suggests the date was a day off for servants who would receive a Christmas box from their employers to take home to their families. Another proposes that great ships setting sail would have a sealed box full of money onboard for good luck. If the voyage was a success, the box was given to the church and the contents donated to the poor on this day.
When the fixtures are released in the summer, fans are eager to see who their side are playing, as it is often an occasion when the entire family go to a match.
In most countries, there is a winter break of at least a week (Germany have six), but in England matches are played throughout the festive period.
The tradition of soccer on Boxing Day dates to 1860, when the world’s oldest and second-oldest clubs contested the first interclub match. Hallam and Sheffield played a game under Sheffield Rules, a 19th-century interpretation of today’s modern sport that still permitted participants to catch the ball with their hands.
Matches are traditionally played against local rivals or teams within a close proximity of each other so as to avoid supporters having to travel a long distance after Christmas Day when the train timetables are reduced.
Having 10 games all in one day at a time when most of the other leagues across the globe are shut down means that the eyes of the world are on the Premier League.
Festive traditions tend to outlast their practicality; the explanation for the name Boxing Day is testament to that. Although the custom of soccer on the day after Christmas might have been diluted somewhat over the years, its place on our calendar is still marked.
Soccer and Christmas have changed significantly since Hallam and Sheffield played for the first time in 1860, but some traditions are seen as worth preserving.
Boxing Day is one of the best days of the year to watch Soccer with us all at Kildare's
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Manchester vs Middlesborough
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